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Death toll rises to 5 as rescue workers continue efforts at collapsed Miami building

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Rescue efforts continue in Florida building collapse
Rescue efforts continue in Florida building c... 04:00

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At least five people were confirmed dead and more than 150 people remained unaccounted for nearly three days after a condo tower near Miami came crashing down while people inside were sleeping.

A fire had hampered search efforts Saturday at the site of the collapsed apartment building in Surfside, Florida. Teams were using infrared technology, foam and water to fight the blaze, but it was very difficult to isolate its source and stop it, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a press conference.

The smoke was the biggest barrier as searchers continued their around-the-clock effort to find any survivors. First responders believe it is still possible people will be found alive. There are crevices in the debris, allowing for airflow, said the mayor. 

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told CBS Miami that he'd been given approval for voluntary evacuation of a nearby "sister building," built by the same developer around the same time period, known as Champlain Tower North so that officials can do a comprehensive forensic analysis.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at the press conference alongside Levine Cava, "I don't know that there's indications that there's any problems with that building, but just given the similarities, given the same age, they think that that may be something."

An engineering report from 2018 warned that the building that collapsed had major structural worries, Mark Strassman reported for "CBS This Morning: Saturday." It is unclear if any of the issues in the report — from Morabito Consultants — caused the collapse, and it didn't warn of imminent danger, although it said repairs were needed.

Waterproofing failed under the pool deck and wasn't properly laid, so water didn't drain, the report said. "The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas. Failure to replaced the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially," it said. 

It also said there was "abundant cracking" in concrete columns, beams and walls in the parking garage.  

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

4 victims identified

Miami-Dade police on Saturday night identified four of the five confirmed dead in the building collapse.

The victims were identified as Stacie Dawn Fang, 54; Antonio Lozano, 83; Gladys Lozano, 79; and Manuel LaFont, 54.

By Jordan Freiman
 

Death toll rises to 5 as another body is pulled from wreckage

A fifth person has been confirmed dead after firefighters pulled another body from the scene of the collapsed building Saturday, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue officials told CBS Miami.

More than 150 people remained unaccounted for nearly three days after the condo tower crashed down.

By Cassidy McDonald
 

Israel Defense Forces to send delegation to help at the collapse

Israel Defense Forces and the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs will send a joint aid delegation of approximately 10 reserve officers to assist at the building site collapse, the Israel Foreign Ministry said Saturday. 

The delegation will be sent to help emergency workers responding to the disaster, which CBS Miami reports took place in a neighborhood with large Orthodox Jewish community.

The officers from Israel's Home Front Command are "all top experts in engineering and social care efforts," the ministry said on Twitter Saturday, adding that their mission is to "assist in the life-saving efforts by mapping out the destruction site, assisting the Jewish community in identifying victims and survivors, and supporting the local rescue forces generally."

The office of Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Saturday that he spoke with Florida governor Ron DeSantis and expressed his condolences in wake of the building collapse.

Bennett's office tweeted, "The PM said the US is Israel's greatest friend and that Israel stands by the US at this difficult time; added that everyone is praying for the wellbeing of the wounded and noted he has instructed all Israeli government agencies to render whatever assistance that may be requested."

By Tori B. Powell
 

County orders audit for buildings 40 years and older

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has directed the county's Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources to "immediately" start an audit of all buildings that are 40 years and older. 

The tower that collapsed was built 41 years ago on reclaimed wetlands.   

"We want to make sure that every building has completed their recertification process and we want to move swiftly to remediate any issues that may have been identified in that process," she said Saturday at a press conference. 

The county is going to conduct the audit within the next 30 days, beginning on Saturday. 

There are buildings in cities that are "beyond the county's regulatory authority," the mayor said, and she invited cities to join in what she called an "aggressive review."  

"We know everyone wants to know what is the cause, what has happened here, and of course we are going to conduct a full and thorough investigation with all of our local, state and federal resources coming on the scene, so people are gathering from all around to help us with this investigation," she said. 

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

Florida governor: "Sister building" could be evacuated

Surfside officials are considering whether to evacuate a "sister building" that is down the street from the collapse site, said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. It was built at the same as the collapsed condo building, with the same designer, he said.

DeSantis said he has spoken with the mayor of Surfside and "I know they are considering potentially evacuating them, but that's something that ultimately the mayor's going to have to make the call on."

"I don't know that there's indications that there's any problems with that building, but just given the similarities, given the same age, they think that that may be something."

The governor said the Surfside mayor may have an announcement Saturday.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

Mayor: Fire at collapse site is hampering search efforts

A fire burning at the site of the building collapse is hampering search efforts, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a press conference Saturday morning.

Teams are working under rubble to address the fire, but it is very difficult to isolate its source and stop it, she said. 

The smoke itself is the biggest barrier right now.

She also said no further victims have been found in the search and that the number of unaccounted for remains at 159. 

Mayor: Fire at collapse site is hampering sea... 18:37
By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

Report warned of major damage before collapse

The condo building had "major structural damage" to a concrete structural slab below its pool deck that needed to be extensively repaired, according to a 2018 engineering report on the building. It said the waterproofing under the pool deck had failed and had been improperly laid flat instead of sloped, preventing water from draining off.

"The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas. Failure to replaced the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially," the report said.

The firm recommended that the damaged slabs be replaced in what would be a major repair.

The report also uncovered "abundant cracking and spalling" of concrete columns, beams and walls in the parking garage. Some of the damage was minor, while other columns had exposed and deteriorating rebar. It also noted that many of the building's previous attempts to fix the columns and other damage with epoxy were marred by poor workmanship and were failing.

Beneath the pool deck "where the slab had been epoxy-injected, new cracks were radiating from the originally repaired cracks," the report said.

By Associated Press
 

"She screamed. And then the phone went dead."

Family members of the missing are facing uncertainty as they wait for any word of their loved ones.

"I think I'm trying to brace myself for the worst and the best," said Ariana Hevia, whose mother is missing. "Just not knowing, that's the hard part."

Sergio Lozano is looking for his parents.

"I was on the phone with her at 1:30. She called me up, and she said 'I think there's an earthquake.' And she looked out the balcony and the pool area had kind of sink-holed. And then the building started to shake and rattle, and then she screamed. And then the phone went dead." 

 

Mayor says search and rescue team still has hope that they will find some of the missing alive

At a press briefing Friday night, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters that officials are still "full speed ahead" on search and rescue, noting that people have been discovered alive in rubble over a week beyond the date of the initial incident in other instances.

"We have hope because that's what our search and rescue team tells us, that they have hope," the mayor said. "They see opportunities, they see fissures that they could go in, they see places that they could break through. And as long as they can do that, as long as they have encouraging signs like the knocking sound that they've heard, then we will continue."

By Victoria Albert
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